What To Eat If You're Sick On The Keto Diet

Shannon Ashley

Don't let the cold or flu derail your progress.


Photo by Sébastien Marchand on Unsplash

Oh great. It looks like I caught my daughter's cold virus pretty early into my new keto lifestyle. The other night, I struggled to sleep with a nasty sore throat. Usually, I'd be drinking tons of tea with honey, but sugar is out on the ketogenic diet.

So what's a miserable mama to do?

The main thing for me at the moment is that I'm achy all over, and I've got a sore throat. But I don't want to rely upon sugar-free lozenges which make your mouth taste gross and do have carbs.

And I don't know about you, but I'm typically the kind of person to use any excuse to derail my diet. Because honestly? I just want to eat some comfort food.

So I decided to give myself a break and not track my macros so seriously, but still keep my carbs low, my fat high, and my protein moderate.

I made creamy chicken soup.


Earlier in the week, I made some bone broth out of a whole chicken. This is some very high-quality broth that firms up like Jello in the fridge from the richness of the chicken bones.

To make the bone broth, I stuck a whole chicken in a stainless steel pot, added some Sunny Paris seasoning from Penzey's, covered the chicken with 4 tablespoons of pink Himalayan salt, and let that simmer all day.

When the broth was perfect, I strained it and stuck it in the fridge. The broth went into a bottle. And the chicken went into a separate container.

This morning, when I began to feel hungry, I dumped some broth in a bowl, added a few ounces of diced chicken, chopped up a thick slice of onion, and sprinkled some air-dried garlic, shallots, and chives.

I stuck the whole bowl in the microwave for a few minutes, but you could heat it up on a stove top. I purposefully made it too hot, because I added a tablespoon of butter and a half cup of cream.

That's right, a half cup of cream! It mellowed out the saltiness of the broth and added plenty of fat.

Don't skimp on the fat, and don't load up on protein. That's probably the biggest mistake people make on keto regardless of their personal macros.

Ideally, I'm supposed to have between 60 and 83 grams of protein, and honestly, that gets used up fast. When it comes to fat, I aim for at least 245 grams. That's why I use a lot of butter and heavy cream.

And I'm eating (mostly) green veggies.

When you eat veggies on the keto diet, low carb usually means green. Green veggies are filled with vitamins and minerals and are pretty good for us when we're sick.

I mainly stick to green peppers, which are tasty fried in bacon grease, but I also enjoy asparagus, arugula, cabbage, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini.

Since I eat once or twice a day and have so far only had the soup, I am planning to have some veggies with copious amounts of butter for dinner. I may even make a creamy veggie soup with the rest of my bone broth, plenty of garlic, and cabbage or cauliflower.

There's something really nourishing and comforting about veggies which have been prepared simply with butter and salt.

There are lots of keto-friendly add-ins.

If the idea of soup appeals to you while you're sick on the keto diet, there are lots of ways to customize it to your liking. Always begin with real bone broth--the kind that thickens up like gelatin in the fridge.

Once you've got some bone broth on hand, making a keto soup is pretty easy. Dice up some fatty meat (fatty cuts of sausage, pork, or beef are actually better than chicken which has less fat and more protein).

Then add some veggies and herbs. Garlic, onions, celery, and carrots are easy options.

If you like to add an egg or two to your soup, think about using the yolk and not the white to help minimize protein and maximize fat.

Remember to try hot drinks, too.

If you're having a hard time getting your fat and calories in on the keto diet (I never expected to have those problems), fatty drinks are a good solution. Bulletproof coffee or tea, or simply coffee or tea with cream will help you reach those macro goals.

According to MyFitnessPal, one cup of cream has over 88 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein, 7 grams of carbohydrates, and 828 calories.

And although I love myself some Kerrygold butter, there are actually some other brands with more fat and calories. Lately, I opt for those. These are easy ways to better reach those macros, especially when you're sick and could use more hot fluids.

I'm taking the middle ground..

There are tons of different ideas out there about "cheating" on keto, or "following the rules." Personally, I'm on a type of keto where 5 items are discouraged, particularly for the first month.

Fruit, nuts and seeds, nut flours, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners are all out on my particular eating plan with my keto coach. But you know what? I'm feeling like garbage, so I'm willing to break a few rules.

Hello, diet soda.

I'm okay with that kind of compromise when I'm sick. Along with simply chilling out about my macros. For the time being, diet soda goes down better than water for my scratchy throat. It can even be a great carrier for heavy cream, and a tasty ingredient in homemade gelatin, or popsicles.

A zero carb sore throat remedy?

Here's one last word on something that "worked" for me. I say that loosely, because maybe the efficacy is all in my head. But as I Googled sore throat remedies for the ketogenic diet, I came across the suggestion to use acupressure.

So I tried it out. Applied pressure to the most tender spot on the back of my neck for a couple of minutes... and I was able to swallow without pain.

But hey, if that's too much hooey for you, there's always the home remedy of gargling with salt water.

If you're following a ketogenic diet, what remedies have you've found to be helpful when you're hit with a cold or influenza virus?

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Single mama, full-time writer, ex-vangelical. It's not about being flawless, it's about being honest. I cover real-life issues, like family, parenting, relationships, and spiritual abuse.

Cleveland, TN

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